Moving in tandem to a rollicking Mumford and Sons tune, Olds figure skater Kobi Chant and his partner Savanna Martel ice danced to place third at the nationals in December.
Chant is hoping for an even better result at the 2019 Canada Winter Games when he and Martel compete on Feb. 25 and 27 in the pattern and free dances.
“Every time you want to see a better score than last time,” said Chant. “As long as you’ve beaten your last record, you’re happy…”
The 16-year-old credits their success, in large part, to sticking with the same grueling schedule.
Five mornings a week, he wakes up at 4:30 a.m. so his mom can drive him to Calgary for practice. At 6:15 a.m., he meets Martel at the rink and they synchronize their moves “until 8:15 or 9:45, depending on the day,” says Chant.
After the workout, they drop Martel off at school in Airdrie and Chant hits the books in Olds, combining some high school classes with individual study. (Homework, he says, isn’t an issue because “I’m pretty good at staying on top of it… I get quite a few spare blocks during the day and I get as much done then as possible.”)
Most nights he’s in bed by 9 p.m. to prepare for another early start the next morning.
Chant’s drive and discipline spring from his passion for figure skating. He started as a four-year-old, when a lot of boys are getting registered for hockey.
But Chant said he always preferred the artistry of his sport, as well as the athleticism.
Unlike pairs skating, there are no death-defying, above-the-shoulder lifts and throws in ice dancing — but there are twizzles, spins, short lifts and step sequences that must all mesh between partners.
Chant admits he used to take a lot of razzing from hockey kids who didn’t understand the heavy demands of his sport. “But now that I am in high school, I have friends that play hockey and they totally respect what I do.”
Chant even plays the odd game of shinny. The concern is getting injured and missing an event like the Canada Winter Games, which could help catapult him and Martel to the next stage.
“We have six competitions a year and we definitely want to see results,” adds Chant.
He and Martel, a former singles skater, have been ice dancing together for about a year. He says he had to change partners to find the right combination of attitude, athletic ability and personality.
Chant and Martel clicked right away: “We are both outgoing and adventurous. We have the drive to work hard, but also to have fun while we work.”
They are hoping it’s the winning combination for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Chant says it can’t hurt to have a big cheering section of their central Alberta friends and relatives at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.